Australia’s competition watchdog opened an inquiry into the widening reach of services from large digital platform providers, releasing an issues report raising questions about the companies’ impact.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) stated it will examine the expanding ecosystem of platform companies including Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft as part of a five-year investigation.

It noted the companies are investing across a variety of “sectors and technologies, creating a web of interconnected products and services”.

With consumers and businesses increasingly reliant on their products and services, ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said it is crucial to “examine how these companies are expanding their reach”.

The agency also called for submissions about the companies’ investment decisions and how their products and services within each ecosystem are interconnected.

Submissions are due by 5 April.

Specific areas to be analysed include their move into consumer cloud storage and smart home devices. “We’re eager to hear from consumers and business about their experiences with digital platform services within these ecosystems,” Cass-Gottlieb added.

The interim report will assess how their access to “enormous user databases and personal information” can be used “across products and services within an ecosystem that may prevent businesses from entering and competing”, she added.

It will also explore potentially excessive collection and problematic use of user data “to confuse or manipulate consumers”, ACCC wrote.

Australia established a regulatory body comprised of four agencies in March 2022 to collaborate on information sharing to streamline scrutiny of digital platforms and mitigate growing online risks.